The New York Times has reported that the Trump administration is set to dismantle Obama-era restrictions on drone strikes and ground raids outside traditional warzones (see story here).
EFAD Member Reprieve has found that since Trump took office, at least 30 civilians have been killed in ground raids and drone strikes in Yemen, where the US is not formally at war. The number includes civilians.
Earlier this year, a judge in DC, ruling on the case of Yemeni drone victim, said that Congressional oversight of the drone program and related military activities was “a joke.”
Commenting on the 22nd of September, 2017, Maya Foa – Director of Reprieve – said:
“This proposal is a foreign policy disaster. The US has the right to defend itself against imminent attack, but as our recent investigation in Yemen shows, the drone program has already moved far from that – selecting targets on the basis of shaky intelligence, and killing hundreds of people, including children. Loosening the already poor safeguards in place will cause more innocents to die, stoke the flames of extremism, and do nothing to make Americans safer.”
EFAD Member Amnesty International also responded to the developments through Zeke Johnson, senior director of programs for Amnesty International USA, who issued the following statement:
“The policies that guide the United States’ use of lethal force and armed drones, whether under President Obama or President Trump, have always been legally and morally murky. Any move to gut their already weak human rights protections would be unacceptable. The Trump administration needs to ensure that its guidance for operations outside armed conflict comply with human rights law. The administration cannot write itself a blank check to kill with impunity.”
There is a growing concern that European countries currently acquiring and/or using the technology will look heavily toward the way the United States understands its authority to use armed drones in shaping their own policies. More information from Reprieve can be found here and Amnesty here.